tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 28, 2010 7:36pm-8:00pm EST
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i'm christina brown, here's what's happening. the senate confirmed ben bernanke to a second term as the chairman of the federal reserve. 70-30 brought to an end to the bruising battle over bernanke's handling of the economic crisis. house leaders demanding a full investigation into how a hacker was able to deface the websites of nearly 50 house members last night. meanwhile, the house ethics committee cleared california democrat pete starke of any wrongdoing, in claiming his maryland home as his principal residence. the judge in the trial of scott roeder, accused ofç murdering late-term abortion doctor george
tiller has told the jury they may not consider a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. drivers in texas and oklahoma are having a very tough commute as strong winter storms leave snow, ice and flooding in its wake. and jd salinger, author of the teen angst classic "the catcher in the rye" died today in new york at the age of 91. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." for the latest on two legal stories. the big one, four conservative activists charged with tampering with the phone system in senator mary landrieu's office the other day. what do they face? the supreme court justice alito also showed disagreement with a line in president obama's speech last night. was he out of line himself? joining me is professor at george washington university who knows a lot about a lot. and always surprises me. so i have no idea what you're going to say. what do you make of these
characters, i think that's fair to call them that, they may be felons when this is all over, going into a senator's office in new orleans, her local office, mary landrieu, and doing something with the phone system, mass occur aiding as telephone equipment fixers, cutting the lines, doing things, entering space they shouldn't be in, facing now ten years in prison for some hijinx? their defense is, what, they wanted to catch the senator's staff acting nonchalant or whimsical after their lines were cut because they're tired of taking negative calls on the health bill? >> that's the weird thing. these people seem to have room temperature iqs. it's astonishing they found each other and came up with this idea. >> it is dangerous when people of slight intellect get together. >> and their addresses pinned to their shirts when they do this. you really have a problem. as a defense attorney, you reach these people and say you're a disgrace to criminals around the world. they're looking at serious problems here.
now, the big issue, however, says the affidavit itself says that they are charging for this trespass charge with the intent to commit a felony. the question is what that felony is. if you don't have that felony, it drops dramatically. so the ten years is really kicking in on the felony. they don't say what the felony is. >> if they have any tools with them, does that tell you that they're going to do something illegal? >> well, it seems to me that when they talk about malicious interference, they're talking about only one of two things. one is surveillance, they didn't seem to have electronic surveillance devices with them, the other was to stop the phone system, interrupt it. either one would be very, very serious. they would be looking at a ç serious charge, they already are. it's more likely prosecutors will put pressure on these young kids, maybe one of the prosecutor's sons, to see if any of them they will turn on o'keefe. he's obviously going to be the target. >> let me ask you about this. here's a statement that came out
from the spokesperson in senator mary landrieu's office just now. senator landrieu believes this feeble explanation we're getting about what the purpose was, to embarrass the office, to divert attention away from the fact that his client stands accused of a federal crime that could land him in prison for up to ten years. the fact remains that they perpetrated a false identity scheme on the building security by posing as telephone workers. the only people these four embarrassed was themselves and their families. well, embarrassment is the least of their worries right now. if you went to a senator's office, and you snuck into the office and snuck back in using a uniform, workman's uniform, and you went in and started cutting the wires, what would that crime be, if you knew nothing else about the case, about the motive, politics or who these people were? >> the most obvious one is 1036, which they were charged under. in terms of the felony, there's destruction of federal property,
possibility of surveillance. there's also other types of charges, if they lie to federal officials. there's a charge which also brings -- >> these guys are going to get a big fine, or a year? >> i think they're going to look at serious jail terms, because the judge, assuming the prosecutors can prove these facts, they seem to be very confident, if they prove these facts, i think a judge is going to be very reluctant to say, well, this was a not-so-charming prank. >> how about the tertiary or secondary guilt, is it possible if they sat down with other parties, political people that encouraged this act, this, whatever, escapade or -- highjinks, could they be guilty? >> they call it conspiracy, the prosecutor's darling for a good reason. you can bring in secondary parties and flip them. it's a serious problem. these four, i'm surprised they were able to find the building together. there may be other people helping them. >> let's take a look at something that happened last night, a bit of highjinks on the floor of the united states house of representatives. here's what president obama said about the recent supreme court
decision in last night's state of the union. let's listen, and watch as we do justice samuel alito's reaction. >> last week, the supreme court reversed a century of law that i believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.ç i don't think american elections should be bank rolled by america's most powerful interests or worse, by foreign entities. >> what do you make of that? i couldn't quite see it. everybody's talking about him saying, you you know, let's -- we're going to show it again. people say he said something like "not true" under his breath. >> i've seen it. the close-up. it seems -- >> there he is. he's shaking his head. >> no one's accusing him of a jerry springer moment. this shouldn't be belittled
either. what happened there, to use a word, would be exceptionally injudicious. >> is he supposed to be like a soldier, keeping guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, totally at attention without any aspect? >> the tomb of the unknown soldiers can show more emotion. there is a symbol of two things. he blew one of them. one is the three branches coming together, which is important for democracy. the other is the utter neutrality and the apolitical values of the court. and for that reason, you're not allowed to applaud. you're not allowed to oppose or mimic. >> thank you. up next, much more on what president obama did or did not accomplish last night. i thought it was a wonderful night for him. we'll get the poll data coming in in a couple of days. a new low in the saga of john edwards. this is a sad story. a human story. sad. a man very high up in his expectations, legally separated or about to be apparently and somebody's got a tape of him with this other woman.
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welcome back to "hardball." about a week ago, john edwards admitted he's the father of his mistress' child. now a former edwards' aide drops a new bomb. here's andrew young, not the famous andrew young, in an abc news interview with bob woodruff. let's listen. >> there was one tape that was marked special. and we're just aghast. it's a sex tape of rielle and john edwards made just a couple of months before the iowa caucuses. i mean, it's amazing the tape exists. that's unbelievable. but to leave it in a house that's for sale where realtors ó are going to be coming through
it and leave it there for eight months is unbelievable. >> are you absolutely sure that this is john edwards and rielle hunter? >> it's definitely him. you never see her face. it's a visibly pregnant woman. >> wow. i'm joined by melinda i brought in for special duty. and clarence page. you don't have to enjoy this. it's schadenfreude, but it's so strange. here's this good looking guy, smart guy, great courtroom lawyer, rose right up to the senate from north carolina. beat an incumbent, which is rare. heading towards the white house. ends up being vp, running for the vice president of the united states and now this. >> he's behaved despicably. this tape doesn't change anything. for andrew young to come on and say this is aghast, this is a man who helped john edwards speak on his cancer-stricken wife, who helped john edwards deny his own flesh and blood. and blood, so he's aghast by something on the tape? i don't care what this guy has to say. i'm not saying there's not a tape. we don't know. >> that is an interesting point.
why are we talking about it to be honest? i think she raised a great question. let's go back for the tape which i'm sure people will be watching on tv now. you can watch everything. is the issue of this guy's fault at all instructive? how high he went, was he a false flyer? was he a morning glory? was he a mistake? a mirage? >> makes you wonder about his nars sissism. you have to ask questions about his character and why he would behave this way. he is a man of uncommonly good intelligence and was potentially a great presidential candidate, viable and all that. but he has really crashed and burned here. we can see there was all this going on behind the scenes even while he was aspiring to the presidency. >> when he waa in the room in iowa, i'm sure you were out there. >> right. >> i've never seen a better small room politician. >> right. >> he was as good as clinton which is really saying something. 200 people in the room, hot room, packed in.
dynamite. >> yeah. >> right. >> it was kind of canned, too, though. some speeches just right down to the stop watch. >> it's easier to find a new audience than new material but the material was working for me. >> what i keep going back to, though, their son wade's death in 1996. i keep thinking, is this a family slow mo destruction? >> it happens. >> you go back to this moment. he would never have gone into politics he said many times if wade had been alive. then he has these children, they say that they have the kids as a response to wade's death. all of these things that have happened since then. would any of this have ever occurred if they hadn't lost their son? >> horrible things happen when you lose a child. >> it's tragic. >> true. >> i think john edwards ought to go back to practicing law and he'd probably be a great lawyer or else join the peace corps. >> i'm not sure the juries would go for him. >> there are a lot of more important things to do in life besides run for office.
we heard howard zin died, a leading political activist. a crusader for civil rights and prominent opponent of the war in vietnam. to read history from a left wing point of view and you ought to hear things from all points of views, he was great. he wrote in his autobiography he wanted his students to be more prepared to give up the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, act against injustice wherever they saw it. a great lesson. howard zinn was 87. sir? finding everything okay? i work for a different insurance company.
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what frustrate the american people is a washington where every day is election day. we can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the >> we're back with our guests for more of the politics fix. you know politics very well. we've been on the bus together and on 1 million shows by now. i of course thought it was spectacular last night. i thought he commanded the country as head of state. he spoke for all of us. he was, i thought, teasing the republicans in a charming way, maybe trying to tease them in. now, you? >> i didn't see it. i thought he was listless, churlish and internally inconsistent. we ran a pretty harsh assessment today by our columnist who wrote for george w. bush. >> expecting it from him.
>> i was sorry to see how much of it i had to agree with. i thought there were just so many instintconsistenciesincons. >> these beltway people. >> i think he was charming, grand, eisenhower, above it all. >> he took potshots at bush but then said let's not relitigate. >> look, people do know things were a mess when he came into office. and, you know, he isn't going to do everything in a year. they have felt that he was losing touch which he was. he himself admitted he has to go out and communicate again what's really going on. this was a speech, you know the line about we campaign in poetry and govern in prose. he had to mix both last night. >> did you hear poetry? i didn't hear poetry. >> there was poetry in there because he had to inspire people for the figh